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News & Media: Staff Columns

Edge’s policy team: Here to serve you

Wednesday, September 18, 2019   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Aaron Stauffacher, assoc. director of gov. affairs
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Compared to most organizations engaged in federal policy, Edge is still in its infancy since deciding to actively help solve the escalating challenges facing the dairy community.

Our leadership recognized that our members are progressive and forward-thinking, but busy, making it difficult to stay up-to-speed on revolving policy issues. Our farmers needed the know-how, the platform and the voice to deliver their ideas and messages to the policymakers who have the capability of effectuating positive change for our dairy community. And that is why we, Edge’s policy team, are here to serve you.

Our policy team is strong, we have knowledgeable and dedicated people here to work on your behalf. Edge’s government affairs director, John Holevoet and I partner with Michael Torrey Associates in D.C. to stay on top of legislative and regulatory developments, sift through endless streams of information and develop and maintain relationships with policymakers and their staffs. We do all of this work knowing that ultimately Edge’s strength is rooted in you as our dairy farmers and members. Now more than ever, law and policymakers want to hear directly from you.

On a farmer trip to Washington D.C. a few years back, the lawmaker we met with picked out the farmers in the group right away, directed them where to sit and was primarily interested in what they were thinking, feeling and experiencing on the dairy farm. Lawmakers want to hear from you, and we are here to help you accomplish that.

It doesn’t take a trip to D.C. for your voice to be heard. For example, Congressional recess this past month provided us the opportunity to bring the people working on dairy policy to you and show them firsthand how those policies effect you on the farm. In August, we’ve had several successful on-farm meetings in Wisconsin and South Dakota with congressional ag staffers. Some of which have never been on dairy farm before.

The congressional recess also provides us with the opportunity for our policy team to get out to talk and visit with more of our members. I just recently spent a few days visiting our members in South Dakota. There wasn’t a conversation where I didn’t learn something new. Whether it could be a concern I haven’t heard about yet or just a unique fact about the individual farm.

Unfortunately, we can’t get out to every farm but please don’t let that stop you from calling us, shooting us an email and weighing in with your thoughts through our many channels.

Our dedicated field staff are also wrapping up our annual member check-in and thank you to all those who completed the survey. We ask basic questions and pointed questions that help us identify the issues most important to you - so our policy team can best strategize our time and resources. Your feedback and engagement are appreciated and necessary for Edge to best serve you.

Even if you consider yourself informed on the policy front, I challenge you to do one extra thing to take it a little further. A little bit can go a long way. Whether it is having an official out to the farm, calling in to a congressional office or writing a letter, it’s important and makes a difference.

There are less and less people involved in modern agriculture and there are plenty of naysayers trying to paint dairy in a negative light. A farmer once told me, “policy decisions aren’t controlled by the majority of the population, they are controlled by the majority of people who choose to participate.” Edge and our policy team are here to help you as a dairy farmer participate and make a difference so we can best overcome the challenges facing the dairy community.

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